Unsustainable Infield Hit Rates

Last season, Cameron Maybin led MLB with a 14.2 percent infield hit rate. The year before it was Ichiro, with a 15.8 percent infield hit rate. So far this season, eight players have an infield hit rate of over 18-percent. Since it is highly unlikely that these players will continue to see their infield balls in play turn into base hits, it might be a good time to sell high.

Edwin Encarnacion, 24% – Things have been somewhat easy for Eddie early on this season. He’s hitting well over .300 with eight bombs already (I told you he had it in him!). That being said, Encarnacion’s batted ball profile suggests that he’s been the beneficiary of some good fortune so far. Encarnacion has a fly-ball rate of over 50-percent and a line-drive rate of under 15 percent. Fly balls are the balls in play most likely to turn into outs, so his .313 BABIP – while looking normal on the surface – could actually be seen as a bit inflated. On top of that, EDH’s infield hit rate won’t sustain itself either. I still believe that Encarnacion is in line for a fine season, but selling while his value is at it’s peak is not a bad idea at all.

David Freese, 21.7% – Freese’s stats feature a bunch of rates that are unlikely to be sustained. His insanely high BABIP (.417), his very high HR/FB rate (26.3 percent) and his 21.7-percent infield hit rate should all regress before long. Add on top of that a history of injury problems and you have a perfect sell high candidate.

Jose Altuve 21.2% – Unlike the two players above, Altuve actually has plus speed, so it’s understandable that he would have a higher infield hit rate than most. However, an infield hit rate of over 20 percent is not likely to hold, no matter how fast a player is. Because of his speed, Altuve could very well sustain his .333 BABIP, but look for his fortune to change with regards to those infield base knocks. The time is right to sell high on Altuve, but don’t give him away for nothing, he could very well be on his way to a .290-.300, 30 SB season.

Eric Thames, 20.7% – Last season, Thames’s infield hit rate was 5.4 percent. He’s at about four times that so far this season. That inflated infield hit rate, to go along with a very high .346 BABIP, suggest that he’s not likely to keep his AVG above or even near .300 for much longer. Thames also currently sports a groundball rate of over 50 percent, which explains why his BABIP at home on the turf in Toronto is .400, compared to .296 on the road.

Adam Jones, 18.2% – It’s definitely time to sell high on Adam Jones. Not only does Jones have name brand value, but his numbers are looking awfully good early on despite the fact that his batter profile hasn’t changed much at all. Jones still isn’t drawing walks or taking pitches and he continues to expand the strike-zone much too frequently. The fact that he has an inflated infield base hit rate only adds to the reasons why you should be putting him on the trading block.

Ruben Tejada, 18.2% – In parts of five seasons in the minor leagues, Tejada hit .270/.340/.353. Not exactly eye-popping numbers (more like eye averting numbers). Tejada won’t hold his current .370-plus BABIP nor hit 18 percent infield base hit rate. If there is any chance to sell high, you should do it.